Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Says Sufi Complex Can Go Forward

KQED’s Stephanie Martin reports that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously denied appeals of the Planning Commission’s approval of a planned 66,000-square-foot complex by Sufism Reoriented in a quiet residential area just outside Walnut Creek.

Some minor language changes were made to clarify aspects of the parking code, Martin says.

Supporters gave the board a standing ovation after the vote.

“This is probably one of the happiest days of my life,” said sanctuary project director Bob Carpenter. “We appreciate the work the board did on it. And while it took a long, long time and there were frustrating moments, they did an excellent job.”

Patricia Perry, a member of the Saranap Homeowners Organization, wasn’t so sanguine. “I know that some people are considering litigation. I can’t say what will go forward and what won’t, but I can speak for myself: You can be absolutely sure that these applicants will adhere to what they promised the county.”

That sentiment reflects the considerble tension that had built over the proposal within the community, with charges of religious bigotry being levied by some supporters of the project. Opponents, for their part, said their beef had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with land use and parking.

Those charges and counter-charges are on display in some of the comments on the issue that we’ve received over the last week…

  • Mani Sheriar

    What a joyous moment of celebration when almost the entire audience of the Lesher Arts Theater stood to give the Board of Supervisors a standing ovation after the hearing!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Newsom/100002410101736 Tom Newsom

       what was nice about the live feed is that a person could stand and applaud at home with you all.

  • Jeff

    Thanks so much kqed for your accurate and unbiased coverage

  • Anonymous

    I feel bad for the people on Warren Rd. and adjacent properties.  I would never have put in this large of a building, as a matter of courtesy.  There will be people who lose everything.  There will be people who’s entire investment, their homes, will be forever affected as 80 Thousand Feet of dirt is displaced near an 80 ft. drop in to the Creek off Warren Road, by 6,000 dump trucks.  That’s the REALITY.  Peaceful people as the Sufi’s seem, that’s not very nice.  There are questions that were not answered and probably never will be answered about this project.  

    • Holysnikespolynikes

      If their homes are truly as unstable as you claim, then they should move out immediately for their own safety, considering the frequency of small earthquakes in the area.

      • Guest

        Who claimed the homes are unstable now or at risk due to earthquakes?  I don’t see that written anywhere in the above comment. 

        Time will tell what the 2-story hole dug on a sloping property will do to neighboring homes.  What kind of neighbor is willing to risk harming a neighbor’s home?  Not very nice, agreed.   

        • Visiting Observer

          Homeowners along a cliff abutting a Creek, nearly 1/4 mile away from the proposed site, reported their their homes may be vulnerable to further instability and landslides.  Has “Guest” ever been in a serious earthquake? If he/she thinks that the vibration of some digging is as threatening to those properties as a 5.0 or above quake, he/she needs a bit of geological education.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Newsom/100002410101736 Tom Newsom

    Congrats neighbors!  I look forward to the ground breaking.

  • JMR

    Unfortunate that the whole community was not involved in the planning and that this issue has divided the local neighborhood.  It seems that Sufism Reoriented is not practicing their own creed of “love thy neighbor”.  They walked over many to achieve their goal and will be celebrating tonight. 

  • Anonymous

    Wednesday, someone was observed quickly removing the occasional yellow and black SaveOurSaranap signs along streets in the neighborhood following the unanimous affirmative vote on Sufism Reoriented’s new sanctuary project. I’m sure they will be seen again, the very next time someone proposes anything to be built in the neighborhood. It’s what they do. I am grateful that cooler heads consistently prevailed throughout the four year process.

    I’m grateful to county staff, the zoning administrator, the planning commission, and the board of supervisors for their consistent approvals. They surfed the ups and down of the tidal forces at work–pro and con–and came to conclusions that allowed a group who had been in the neighborhood for more than three decades, and run an award wining private school for children, to go forward with their beautifully designed building and gardens that will be open to all. No variances required, and all EIR mitigations agreed to.

    It is my sincere hope, that those who fear being bothered (real or imagined) by this project will, when the construction noise and dust is over, enjoy increased property values, and will partake of the opportunity to come and stroll the only lovely park and garden in the entire Saranap, and partake of its peaceful beauty on the edge of the residential portion of the neighborhood to the west and south, and at the edge of an almost industrial portion of the neighborhood to the north and east. I feel certain it will be the promised buffer/transition between old/tired and new/vigorous for the whole area. It will bring a much needed lift to a down at the heels corner of the
    county and will be a beacon of hope, not just for the members who
    worship there, but for the whole community.

    I encourage people to consider joining the Saranap Community Association (the SCA – oldest in the area) and to join and support the wonderful programs they provide to the whole community. The Free Children’s Toy & Clothing Boutique (which received national media attention), the Neighbors Helping Neighbors assistance program, CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams), and our new Saranap Jobs  Network to assist those with employment opportunities. You can find out more at http://www.SaranapOnline.org , or contact us at PO Box 2506, Walnut Creek, CA 94595-0506. We welcome members who own, rent, work, shop, or have an interest in the beautiful Saranap areaa of unincorporated Contra Costa County.

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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